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Super Bowl betting records continue to be broken… at what cost?

Already widely reported as gambling’s biggest single-game sporting fixture in the world, this year’s Super Bowl is set to smash all previous records for sportsbooks’ takings, with some gamblers placing some staggeringly risky stakes.

It’s the end of season match-up that the odds setters didn’t see coming, with unfancied Cincinnati Bengals generally being a 120-1 long shot for the NFL crown at the start of the season, while opponents Los Angeles Rams were expected to be part of the play-off mix, but less widely tipped to win outright, at around 15-1.

However, all the talk of first-time gamblers potentially turning a few pre-season dollars into astronomical end of season pay-outs in the fledgling legalized gambling market in the US seems to have captured the imagination, with the vastly respected Wall Street Journal believing that the grand total of wagers on the showpiece fixture will jump 78% on the 2021 total to an amazing $7.61bn. They project that around 31.4m Americans will place some sort of legal bet on the encounter, a 35% increase from last year.

Some people also stand to win or lose eye-watering sums based on the outcome. Furniture entrepreneur Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale has told Fox Business that he drove across state borders from his home in Texas – where gambling isn’t currently legal – to place a remarkable $4.5m bet on the Bengals in Louisiana, where he could take advantage of the state’s legalization of mobile sports booking just two weeks ago. It’s a remarkable risk to take on a team that lost home and away to under-achieving neighbours Cleveland Browns in the regular season and had the weakest win-loss record of the NFL’s eight division winners this campaign. By Sunday night, that $4.5m will either be worth $7.7m or $0.

However, with the nation still learning (in some cases, dramatically swiftly, and tragically) how the rapidly expanding legal gambling operation works in the US, it’s clear that vast numbers of Americans are willing to add a financial edge to their enjoyment of the must-see sporting event in the calendar.

EPIC Risk Management, the leading independent gambling harm minimization consultancy, has been taking strides to ensure that the enthusiasm for the pastime across the States is also matched with clear and understandable messaging of what’s at stake via our education, advice, consultancy, and training.

Are you only spending time or money that you can afford?

Would you recognise when it’s time to take a break or stop altogether?

Could you tell if someone close to you had found themselves gripped by the addiction that gambling can induce?

This message is largely being delivered to college-age audiences, in particular thanks to a partnership with the NCAA, but with our work also extending to education sessions with the NFLPA Professional Athletes Foundation (where former Super Bowl winners and losers are among the beneficiaries), Chicago Fire and numerous other major institutions, we’re hoping to ensure that those in the fledgling market are as informed and prepared as they can be to make their own decisions, especially when so many peers seem to be ‘getting into the spirit’ of this largely new activity.

“Gambling has always been in the background of sporting activities prior to the recent period of legalization across so many states, but usually on an unregulated basis,” says EPIC’s director of sports partnerships, John Millington.

“However, with every passing year, more states are legalizing and formalizing betting within their borders, meaning that the chance to gamble on major events like the Super Bowl is open to more and more people, increasing the volume of transactions on must-see sports fixtures.

“For some people, that obviously comes at an added risk to their wellbeing or finances, which is why we’re keen to make major strides in partnership with key US institutions to raise awareness of how to ensure you gamble with an informed understanding of the potential risks, if that’s something you want to do alongside the experience of watching the game.

“As we highlighted at our Player Protection Symposium in New York last November, everyone involved in the nascent gambling ecosystem in the US has the perfect chance to make it the safest gambling market in the world from the outset, so we’re continually keen to play our part to protect everyone within that ecosystem and ensure that the potential for gambling harm is minimized at every opportunity.”

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